Interracial Marriages

Saturday, February 27, 2010

One of the topics I usually debate with my mum is about interracial marriages. She said she has lived long enough to see so many unsuccessful interracial marriages and thinks I live in lala land where everything always turns out beautifully and two people from different cultures can live happily ever after. Okay, I've seen interracial marriages work but I know they are tricky and require a bit more effort because of cultural and/or religious differences but of course I have to give my Mum some credit as honestly, I do see her point. Our family relatives and friends who have chosen to marry outside the Malay culture (usually with Caucasian or European men) often end up divorced. Yup, even the 'modern' Malays who are very Western and less religious. It made me think, "What went wrong?".

Recently a local newspaper featured an article on its cover page about this very issue. The Malaysian Minister of Information, Dato' Seri Dr. Rais Yatim, advised Malay celebrities and Malay women generally to think 'thousands of times' before marrying men outside their culture, especially Caucasian men as studies have shown that only 3 out of 10 interracial marriages are bound to work out. The most recent shocking news for me is Maya Karin's separation from her British-born Italian husband, David Shorthose @ Muhammad Ali. No, they're not divorced but she has admitted that they don't live together at the moment.

For those who don't know who Maya Karin Roelcke and David Shorthose @ Muhammad Ali are, let me give you a little 101 based on what I know so far. Maya Karin is a famous and glamourous Malaysian celebrity who is half Malay and half German. She's a model, actress, tv host, you name it. David @ Muhammad Ali is a mathematics teacher at an international school here in Kuala Lumpur. They've known each other since 2001, he became a Muslim in 2004 and they married in 2008. It was only yesterday that local newspapers reported Maya Karin admits her marriage is going through a rough patch but they're not divorced and are still trying to sort things out. She also expressed that she still loves her husband and hopes that their marriage can still be salvaged.

This isn't the first time I've heard of a couple who's known each other for years but after getting married things start to get shaky. I know marriage isn't easy and it's definitely no la la land. But surely all those years must have shown some indicators of possible problems that could crop up. Do couples simply ignore them when they're swept away by romance? Or do things change after marriage? If so, what?

I for one think that marriage is not something that can be taken lightly no matter who it involves, celebrity or non celebrity and may it be interracial or not. However my Mum says that it's always 'easier' when it doesn't involve someone from a different culture. I say it all goes back to values, especially ones regarding family and religion. If two people and their families share similar values then it should be okay because ultimately, culture represent these 3 things - a set of values, a way of life and the way one perceives the world. Having said that, my Mum was married to my late dad for 40 years and I've never been married so I'm sure experience counts for something. At the same time, I personally don't think it's fair to say Western or Caucasian men are more likely to be irresponsible because it all boils down to upbringing and family values. Any man regardless of race, culture or religion can be capable of terrible things if he wasn't brought up right. All that matters is that he is a good practicing Muslim who sincerely believes in Islam and Allah swt's guidance. What do you think? Why do you think people have the perception that interracial marriages are more risky and prone to failure? Which is more important to you - culture or religion? Or do they not matter at all?

I adore Maya Karin and I love her elegant style and gentle persona. I don't know the full story to why she and her husband are having marital problems but I do hope everything works out well for her, inshaAllah. As narrated by Ibn 'Umar, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said "With Allāh, the most detestable of all things permitted is divorce."

Here are some pictures from her beautiful nikah which was held in Italy and her simple yet lovely garden wedding reception in Malaysia. (Maya is an environmental ambassador who is actively involved with the WWF as a conservation activist. In the spirit of saving the environment she presented her guests with energy saving light bulbs as her wedding door gifts. Very cool and unique!)

Nikah @ Lake Como, Bellagio


maya karin wedding Pictures, Images and Photos

Wedding Reception @ FRIM, Kuala Lumpur

 
 
 


Just for fun, read Josh Lim's take on Dato' Sri Dr. Rais Yatim's statement about interracial marriages!

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

hmm...interesting topic. I personally think that its great if we can have this interracial marriage. Ive dated a couple of chinese msians, and one particular mixed culture was with an aussie guy sadly he was way younger than me so his definition of relationship isnt the same but hes family orientated despite his parents r divorced. U c, its definitely up to the individuals if they feel strongly in what they believe in r mutual, then nobody can stop em. If everythg is mutual,no matter ur the same race, u can have a long lasting relationship, but people change over time. They might say they love u so much now, but after a few days they might think otherwise. I for one, just came out of a bad relationship with a chinese msian guy. Too bad hes such a coward. I could confidently say that i always try my best to make anythg work. This applies to what i do at work too. Back to my story,of course ur own family matters more than anybody u jst met 2-5 yrs ago. But if he was willing, we wud still b together by now happily.

When i was 22-24 i thought i wud get married before i turn 30. Look at me now, turning 31 this year n still no luck in "marriage department". True, its not easy. But we shouldnt struggle too much for somethg that is so vague n not sure of the outcome. Somebody said, if it was meant to be, it shud be easy goin. Which i doubt that i wud agree on this statement. I love being challenged and struggle to get what i want - maybe dats how ive always done it. But i guess, its not time yet for me or ppl i knw that r still single or jst got out of bad patches. Hana is right, "lotsa quantity of men out there bt less with quality". M sure they wud say the same. Great stuff shahirah!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Well, this hits home for me because I am in an interracial marriage.

I am White American, and my husband is Malay.

So let's see, are interracial marriages harder than same race/culture marriages?

Of course! We have to first try understanding and respecting the other person's culture and world view, we then have to try to meld those two together and create something unique in itself that we both can appreciate. Both sides have to compromise and give way to another opinion or way of living. Not to mention certain social and language differences that can lead to unintended misunderstandings.

I think the number one thing is knowing what you are getting into, having an open mind, accepting heart, and obviously some cultural competence. You certainly cannot change each other, that is unfair and also a bit ignorant.

If you can let the other person be who they are genuinely, without feeling threatened, then you will have a good marriage.

For example, both have to accept that the other may not share the same religious views, or think the same, but as long as both are trying to understand, and more importantly, both are trying to follow the same path of religion, with a general belief in the same thing, then they will be fine.

Culturally, both have to meld. There cannot be one that trumps the other, they must both be embraced, especially when there are children involved. This means creating your own way of melding religion and culture, because it is not going to be the same as those who are not in an interracial marriage, which is the majority of people, but I think to be successful you have to be ok with being different.

You also have to make sure you respect the other person's culture. If you have a general distaste for the culture you will be unhappy in the marriage. If my husband hated western values we would have problems, if I hated Malaysian cultural practices and social etiquette, we would have problems. Definitely one has to know the culture they are marrying into. Last but not least, for women who are the cooks of the house, one has to be ready to learn and appreciate both foods and styles of cooking, for the simple satisfaction and comfort it brings to both people. to me this is an important part of cultural competence because food plays a big part in our lives..

Of course, you have to be ready to stand up to ignorance, prejudice, and misunderstanding also. There are plenty of people who believe the races should not mix, so dealing with them as a team, and seeing it as something to be faced together, actually makes the relationship stronger, at least in my own experience.

Everything else is the same.. If you are not both willing to put effort and make the other person a priority, it will fail. If you disagree about money and how much or little to spend, it will fail..


Regarding White men and Asian women, there is a stereotype that must be acknowledged. Many White men have a stereotype about Asian women, that they are subservient, wanting to please, 'domestic,' docile, and not strong willed..

In turn, many Asian women have the stereotype that Western men are more about equality for women, and will treat them better as a result..

If two people enter into a commitment hoping for the promise of this stereotype, and are attracted because of this stereotype, you can see why it will fail.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

PS, I agree with Josh lims post in response to the the quote that mixed marriages are bound to fail..

I think that is prejudice against mixed marriage in general, and there are many reasons why marriages fail. Younger generations are divorcing more frequently, not because they have more problems than older generations, but because they have more freedom to choose for themselves.

There are plenty of people who are unhappy with each other but stay together anyway because of the taboo of divorce..

Younger people don't care so much about this taboo and are more interested in taking control of their own lives, even if this means divorce.

The spotlight is on mixed marriage simply because they stand out and are different from the majority of married couples.

zahra said...

very interesting post! im in one myself and my parents had an interracial marriage. both their parents also! and i think my parents ended up in one and i myself ended up in one because we all were raised in a background where we adopted and became very familiar with different cultures so it wasn't surprising for me when i got along so well with my husband although my parents marriage was unsuccessful the reasons really had nothing to do with religion or their cultural.

my husband is arab and i know he does struggle to understand my background as it is mixed and he has to try to understand that i really identify and am heavily influenced by both my european and asian background. since my husband coming from a khaliji family there is alot of tradition and he is the first in his family to marry outside their background and they were not too keen on that at the beginning. it is definately alot harder as there is alot to learn about each others culture. at the end of the day i think it comes down to actually appreciating each others background and appreciating each other. it cant be one way though because i think that leads to problems and that whole superiority complex going on. and i also completely agree with Sarah Elizabeth on basically everything she had to say. i feel that at the end of the day as long as two people can appreciate what molds ppl into the ppl they love, it shouldnt be any problem at all.

Texan in UAE said...

I'm also in a interracial marriage. I'm Mexican-American and he's Arab. I think it can be a tiny bit hard at times, but that said, we have a lot in common with our culture. So, it hasn't been as hard as some of my friends being in interracial marriage's.

We totally respect each others cultures. I kept all my good aspects to my culture. As long as it doesn't cross the line of Islam, we're okay. :))

Rene´s Bare Essentials said...

I am American and married to a Moroccan so I can understand the difficulty of having an interracial marriage. However, I think the problem comes when one or both people put culture before religion. If both people are muslim it should be understood that religion comes first and then culture. Usually its the inlaws who make it difficult for the new couple, usually imposing their idea of how the couple should raise their family, stressing that their language and culture be taught to their grandchildren, etc. Our prophet (pbuh) married women outside of his race and had a successful marriage because he based it on islam first. Its fine to enjoy ones culture (i.e. cusine, dress style etc) however it should never compromise religion, which I feel is why so many marriages are unsuccessful. People tend to be too cultural and make little to no time for their wife, or their husband, they put their family first and only want to eat their cuisine, etc. Both people should compromise and make time to try both cusines not just focus on whose cuisine is better and only allow that cuisine to be cooked in the household (which a lot of cultural men do, stating that they will only eat their own cuisine, so sad since they are missing out on so many varieties of cuisines). You also see these same men ordering their wives around because in their culture its normal, which i should mention is not islamic so again it causes problems. Also I think miscommunication plays a big factor in marriages ending up in divorce. Perhaps both people do not speak the same language properly and say something but mean something else which causes a misunderstanding and hurt feelings. Anyway nice topic. I think interracial marriages are the best and should be encouraged because it reduces racisim and allows people the opportunity to explore other cultures and languages.

Shahirah Elaiza said...

Hani: Yes it is up to the individuals to make sure the relationship works out or not... but that itself is very idealistic. As you said, people change therefore it's hard to depend on them. In a way, I am like you. I love a good challenge and I used to find myself into complicated situations because of that lol! I think men in general are becoming more and more irresponsible and selfish these days and it is harder to find good quality men as Hana said!

As Sarah said above, the younger generation isn't afraid of taboo and feel they have more freedom to do what they want hence they just do according to their whims and fancies.... then end up regretting it all later on. Silly right? InshaAllah you will meet someone and when you do... you will be able to appreciate each other at a greater level simply because it's sooo hard to find good people these days.

Sarah: Loved what you said about younger people being more concerned about having control of their lives! That's very, very true. In a way they are rebelling against traditional culture. Thanks for your overall input =)

Everything you said is true but I would like to add one more thing. The family factor. In the East, people tend to prioritise their family relatively more. I can't be with someone who doesn't respect and love my family because I love them and without them there would be no me in every sense you can think of. Eastern cultures believe in living collectively. Everything an individual does effects the entire family in one way or another.

However in the West, people think of themselves as individuals... almost detached from their families as soon as they move out of their parents' home and lead their own life. This is where conflict occurs in many interracial marriages because Easterners consider Westerners to be selfish. This is just a generalisation though and I'm not saying it's applicable to everyone.

Zahra & Texan in the UAE: Thanks for your responses ladies! =) Respect. Appreciation. Compromise. All these need to be mutual for any marriage, interracial or non-interracial, to work out. And clearly religion is what brought both you and your husbands together. To me, that is almost like a guarantee that things will be okay because when couples have faith in Islam they are most likely to be strong, persevering people =)

Shahirah Elaiza said...

Rene: Yup I totally agree with everything you said! MashaAllah great minds think alike.... and they comment at the same time too cos I just finished typing my reply to the other ladies when I noticed your comment =P

Yes, successful communication is extremely important and not just verbal communication but even physical communication / body language! As different body languages may mean different things in different cultures therefore misunderstandings happen.

Josh Lim said...

Hello! Replied to your comment on my blog, seems like we're both night owls :)

[[[ x Smiley x ]]] said...

Great post Shahirah!
I think its awesome when two cultures mix,it really does open minds, but respect and understanding are key things and its important that you put religion first. This can be hard at times because with some people culture is drilled so deep into their heads that it gets frustrating. I sometimes wish there could be a culture vacuum, plug it to a head and suck out the stuff :P

Never hear of Maya, but she looks beautiful! :)

hispanic muslimah said...

On a personal level, my fiance who is Pakistani and I haven't had very big issues due to difference in race/culture whatever you want to call it.
The problems started when other people such as friends and relatives became involved.
He and I understand each other but others always want to put in their input & that's when nonsense starts to brew in our heads.
It is true, interracial couples do have different obstacles than same race couples.
But they are just obstacles and from the offset of an interracial relationship, the couple needs to decide whether they view particular obstacles as deal breakers.
I view difference in religion as a deal breaker. My reason why is because the purpose of marriage is to become a family even if it's just a husband and wife family.
I don't think I could compromise on faith.
I can compromise on difference of culture. I've chosen to put my faith first and my culture second. My fiance has chosen the same.
If we have children iA they will be Muslims first and of mixed culture 2nd.
I will always emphasize that they are equally both races.
Which culture they choose to like more or act like more would be completely their choice.

As in all relationships, honesty is key.
People shouldn't have to change drastically in order to please their partner. One partner shouldn't push his/her culture on the other. People do change..sometimes people become more religious later in life.
But I've seen that happen in same race relationships.

Any marriage is both limiting and rewarding.I think that as Muslims we should be open to interracial relationships because equality amongst the tribes/races is part of our faith.
People choose to make "culture" separate humanity. When we are apparently sentient and advanced enough as a species to get over it.
That's why we still have wars, racism, etc.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Shahirah,

lol, the world is based on generalizations, that's for sure.. How else could we talk about anything? =-)

Although definitely not pertaining to all people in these situations, just as my comments about White men and Asian women, I do think your comment about Eastern and Western notions of family/individuality are important..

In my marriage the way we approach our families is very different. Being independent is a point of pride in my family. One must stand on their own and pay their own way entirely in order to be considered an adult in my family.. And of course, be out of the parent's house also.
In Malaysia I know that it is more common for families to live together, even sometimes when married. It happens in America also of course, but not my family, that is for sure! :)
It's that whole privacy thing again I think.. When we move I will be facing my cultural upbringing for sure as family will be much more involved, possibly even staying with us for a bit..

I think hubs and I both understand that when immersed in the others culture, we must play by the rules of that culture.. Of course theory is always easier than when it is actually happening to us! :) We shall see..


I have always thought it would be nice to be so close with family, something I have never experienced, and actually admire that about Malaysian/Eastern culture.. That is how it should be!

I have a strong distaste for this ever sickening pop culture of materialism, hyper individuality where even a woman marrying is looked at as being weak or dependent, or "domestic".. Individuality certainly takes priority in many cases.. When people divorce here the focus is more about "your losing yourself" "you need to remember who you are" kind of talk.. And it is not unheard of for people to divorce simply because of that.. Certainly there is not as much thought about how it will effect others, because what matters is "me!" LOL..

Maryam said...

Interracial Marriages: this is the "talk" in my family. As I start to mature and think about marriage, I start to realize the likely possibility of being in an interracial marriage.

My parents and I have had some pretty interesting convos on this topic.

If I'm to speak honestly, I used to be scared to be in an interracial marriage, with all the talk of the culture clash and divorce stories, but I stopped worrying about it so much. I just make dua for a good spouse, and I'm just going to stay open to all possibilities. I think if we put Islam first, before culture, you can't go wrong. That's what I tend to do.

May Allah give bless all us unmarried folks (and married ones too!) with good spouses and happy marriages. Ameen!

Bitten by an Arab bug said...

This is common in my family... my sister is married to South Asian guy for almost 6 years now. My brother-in-law is a Muslim as well as his family and my family is Catholic. They live away from both sides, so we all get along =)

If the family/relatives and everyone else stop meddling with their affairs and try to help to work it out.. it won't fail.

Shahirah Elaiza said...

Hispanic Muslimah: "Any marriage is both limiting and rewarding.I think that as Muslims we should be open to interracial relationships because equality amongst the tribes/races is part of our faith.
People choose to make "culture" separate humanity."

Yup, and especially in regards to tribalism. It's nasty. I know an Arab girl who had an Arab boyfriend and they couldn't get married because they weren't from the same country. I mean, what is up with that?! Btw, she got pregnant along the way and they still couldn't get married. I'm not sure if it's the guy or his family just making up excuses... but that's just sick and unIslamic.

Sarah: Awesome points!! Especially the "you need to remember who you are" kind of talk, that's very true. It reminds me Jessica Simpson's song after she broke up with Nick. "I belong to me" or something like that.

Maryam: Ameen! =)

Bitten by an Arab bug: LOL, they live far away from each other so they get along. Funny. I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Bitten by an Arab bug said...

ooppsss.. what i meant was they live far away from us (relatives/family). they live together :)

Shahirah Elaiza said...

Bitten by an Arab bug: Based on my personal experience.... I have to disagree. This is the a foreign culture that has infiltrated into Muslim societies. Families should live together because this is the only chance we have to spend time with our parents especially. I think people are becoming more and more selfish these days that's why families breakdown so easily. This is one of the reasons why my Mum is worried if I do marry a man outside my culture!

A guy/girl can't simply take the member of the family away from his/her original family (unless they can cause serious harm). For example, a mother raises her son with unconditional love for all his life and then some woman comes along and thinks she can just take him away from his responsibilities as a son??? That isn't right and it's unIslamic.

If I love a man I will make sure he does what is right in his life even if it means sacrificing my own wants. If there's anything I've learnt in life it is that this dunia (world) is temporary and it is merely a test. The happiness and suffering will end eventually...

M Yusuf said...

The trouble is not cultures, but the personalities involved. The majority of Muslims who are involved with people from un-Islamic background hooked on bad terms. The reason is because I have never seen a non-Islamic person who would welcome me and trust me unless I am a bad Muslim such as sharing alcoholic beverages with them.

These Muslims would have also failed other Muslims and is not exclusive to these multicultural/multi-religious marriages.

Nubenegra said...

I do really think that mixed marriages are possible and are not condemned to fail after a few years, when crazy love has gone. The problem is that our society, at least the spanish one, is not ready to understand an issue that is still very new around here. However, my problem is other. I've been going out with a muslim boy for more than a year, we are both 30 years and have things quite clear about how we do really understand each other and how we think life should be. We share a lot of things, a lot of thougths about how everything should go on. Each one has the qualities that the other doesn't so we make a perfect team. The problem is religion. He is a practicant muslim and I do not really think very much about religion in my life. I understand and accept (not feeling myself oppressed) that our children would be raised up as muslims, that I don't have to eat haram meat or drink alcohol but I cannot embrace Islam because I do really have doubts of the existence of God. I really would like that things would be different but that's what I feel and faith is not something you just addopt to please anyone. That's our real problem. That's the point where we are completely blocked. He says I'm the woman he was looking for but he fears that our life in commun will end up as a disaster after a few years "when blind love dissapear and you'll see religion as a problem, as something you don't want your children to learn". I do absolutely think that he's wrong that we can create a family with a muslim father and a mother that is more agnostic than atheist. As he doesn't think the same we're now through a strange crisis that we don't know how to solve. DO you think that I'm just dreaming? That this is impossible? Isn't respect and communication enough to succeed when one of us is muslim?

Shahirah Elaiza said...

Nubenegra, I just read your comment today. I'm not sure when you posted it here's what I think anyway. This my own personal opinion.

I've been in an interracial relationship before and it wasn't easy. I believe it had nothing to do with culture but everything to do with religion. Culture is easy to learn and adapt to but religion? Na'ah.

No one can force you to believe in something you don't want to believe. It sounds like you and your boyfriend are pretty serious. If you want to make this relationship work you must give it your best shot. If he's a practicing Muslim and he has no doubts about his faith then you could try learning about Islam and the concept of God in Islam.

Dig deeper into the issue of why you are agnostic. You have to be completely open with each other if you are thinking of marriage.

I don't think it is impossible for a family to have a father who is religious Muslim and a mother who is agnostic. I've seen couples make it work but it is definitely not easy. Everyday you will have this splinter in your heart just knowing that you and your partner do not see eye to eye on an issue that really is the basis of who a person is.

If you want to make this relationship work, both of you have to explore each other's point of views thoroughly. Be honest with each other. Be honest with yourself.

Someone once said that marriage is a matter of the heart. We must really seek to understand what our hearts are all about before diving into the world of marriage. And religion is a matter of the heart and soul.

Nubenegra said...

Hi Shahirah, thanks for your answer, it's very important for me. I post the comment about two months ago but, as you can imagine, your opinion is still useful and gives me a great relief. If you've been through an interracial relationship too, you'll understand me pretty well. I do feel and believe that he is the man I was looking for, he has every quality I dreamed about and even more. That's why I can't accept that religion will end up with this. Finding the perfect person for you is so difficult that once I've founded I'm not for giving it up. As I told you before, I do have a strange relationship with religion, I do not think very much about it but that doesn't mean I do not try to understand him. I've recently read 'Muhammad' from your admired Tariq Ramadan (my boyfriend also admires him a lot) and now I'm just starting the sacred Qu'ran. I'm doing all I can to understand, to learn, to know, but I can't make promises I don't know if I'm able to keep. I'm sure I can have muslim children even though I'm not one of you. I mean, I know religion is something important but it's also something you learn to love when you're a child, it gives you great values I also share and that's why I know I could manage with it without breaking my promise and making this a reason to break a marriage. I know I won't chage my mind about children but I don't know if I'll be able to change my mind, my feel about myself. Of course, lie is not the way, but I'm so scared about the possibility of losing him that I don't know what else can I do to show him how sure and strong I'm about this. I know he prays for me but believing is not absolutely in my hands, I'm just approaching myself to Islam but faith's coming is not something you get within a few days. I want to marry him but I don't want religion to become a definite condition. If I don't believe we won't be happily ever after? What happens if I'm destined to believe in ten years and not now? I also know that having daily contact with people, culture, religion... helps to change your mind but now we live 700 km away so it makes everything a bit more difficult. Wow! I've written to much, I'm sorry but thank you very much for your interest, it really helps me.

Fascha said...

Marriages in general (regardless of either its a mixed marriage or not) is failing. And the statistics used by Dr Dato Rais is 1993-1998 , and where are in 2010 now. probably by now, the percentage of divorce in normal marriages is quite close by number to the percentage of divorce in mixed marriages. I have lived in Australia before where mixed marriages happen everywhere even among Muslims and non-Muslims and they work well. There are many factors to failures in marriages, not just because u dont marry someone of your race, its such a racist and unfair to claim that a marriage wont work if u marry someone not of ur race.Im marrying a French guy soon and Im a Muslim and I can proudly say that NOTHING CAN CHANGE MY MIND!

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

salam and hello to everyone,

i am a female, my grandpa is arab who live in Malaysia marry my malay javanese grandmother from my father side (there are some problem occur from the arab family who doesnt really like malay at that time but alhamdulillah they are not divorce till my granpa past away)
my grandma from my mother side is chinese muslim woman whom marry my grandpa- a malay man. ( live happily ever after)

i have seen alot of my uncle and cousin choose interracial marriage and they live so happily, their kids are so beautiful and smart... alhamdulillah, ive seen their relation goes well because they are educated and tolerant to each other and very respectful..

but somehow one of my aunt whom marry with algerian guy got divorce..and because of this they affect me. i really hate this, once black-ship can cause trouble to the others which is really unfair.

and today one of my aunt told me her niece married with Sudan and cant hold because the guy are too strong..sigh! this is sensitive part.

I love reading all the comments and experience and all doing well, alhamdulillah..its lighten me a bit.

I will not let those people make me weak or brainwashed me..am going to marry with a Palestinian guy enshaAllah..please make doa for us..

Thank you <3 (iefa)

LogicMalaysia said...

Born into a traditional (or conservative) Hindu family, where religiosity meant and mattered as almost everything, somehow girls of either different races or religions had been somewhat fascinated me. My mother had forewarned many times that I am treading into unchartered waters as all others in the family had traditional Indian/Hindu marriages.

Somehow, the date with one Indian girl had a very short life span. Not that I did not have any short of Indian girl-friends but fate would have something else. When I was dating a Malay girl, my mother vowed to kill herself if I married her - religion stood in the way, notwithstanding that I was at one time the most conservative in the family. I gave up, for my mother's sake.

After a string of dates, finally I met a girl who was a Christian and of mixed parentage. Coming from a conservative Christian family did not help our path towards love. We were from two different worlds and practically there seemed to be nothing in common. She was quite Anglicised. I was just the total opposite. To my mother and all my friends, contemplating marriage would be a disaster.

As fate would have it, love blossomed between us as we patiently explored each others worlds. When we finally decided to be "partners-in-life", we sat down and jotted down all the possible problems we may encounter after ur impending marriage. Children and their status figured prominently as much as language. We made a solemn promise to our ourselves that the "Charter" that we have discussed and accepted would form the basis of our love and marriage and anything thereafter.

Today, we have been married for almost thirty years and have three wonderful and beautiful children. When we look at all those years that we have travelled together we recall our friends who did not give us even a year for the marriage to succeed. Not that they wanted to be critical but who would give any chance to two polarly opposite persons.

In all these years, we never ever had a single religious related misunderstanding. Neither we had any problem on what faith my children should/would embrace. We had our share of ups and downs but not even once had there been any confrontation on religion. We still maintain our own beliefs.

The gist of the Charter we had prior to our marriage helped us to wade through the years. We never broke the promise we had before the marriage. We honoured the promises we made to each other till today. One other aspect we decided and was part of that Charter was never to allow our parents to interfere with our married life. They will remain as parents but will not be allowed to pry into our married life. We have noted then as how such interferences had quite often wreaked havoc and denied the peaceful and loving coexistence of couples from interracial/interreligious backgrounds. If we are getting married we should be matured enough to handle that married life. Not that parents were not part of the extended family but strictly no interference in our married life. These two factors (keeping our promise and non-interference by parents) helped us sail through.

Shahirah Elaiza said...

@LogicMalaysia, thank you for sharing your story, it's the kind of story that gives hope to others :) I wish I could ask you more questions but you didn't leave your contact details. I hope you and your family will continue to live a fulfilling and joyful life together :)